Thursday, April 17, 2014

Truly Stupid Childhood Misconceptions

Note: This is a reprint of an earlier blog.

Most of us, if we think hard enough, can come up with a few truly stupid things we believed as young children. My brother believed more stupid things than I did, though he doesn't remember most of them. I'll help him to remember. Matthew believed that all cats were female and all dogs were male. I'm not sure if he figured the truth to that one out on his own or if he had to wait until high school biology to learn the scoop. My brother also believed that the only parent who was a child's biological relative was the mother. (I should note that my brother does and always did bear an incredible physical resemblance to my father. He must've thought it strange when people commented on it.) My brother also thought the 4-1-1 operator could come through the telephone and attack you. He totally freaked out anytime he knew someone was calling directory assistance. My brother also believed that if a toilet were flushed when a person was sitting on it, the person would be sucked down through the pipes and into the sewer. I terrorized my brother with this irrational belief for the better part of two years until my mother finally put an end to it by sitting me on the toilet fully clothed, and flushing, so Matthew could see that his fear was without foundation. I was a bit irritated at my mom for ending it all so abruptly. I might have had another year or two to torment Matthew had she not intervened.

I carried around a couple of strange beliefs myself. I thought that when a couple divorced, the divorce occurred in a church ceremony, just like a wedding -- with music, flowers, and maybe even a reception -- except instead of vowing to love and honor, etc, the divorcees aired their grievances about the spouses they were divorcing. I imagined songs such as "All my Exes Live in Texas," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers, or maybe "She's Out of My Life." Both my parents frequently performed at weddings. I asked my mom once if she'd ever played or sung at a divorce. She just laughed. I think she thought I was trying to be funny. One day I saw an earlier incarnation of the TV show "Divorce Court" and realized that I had it all wrong. (When I made this discovery, my brother was still fearing the directory assistance operator and thoroughly entrenched in the belief that all cats were female and all dogs were male. I share this with you merely to give you perspective.)

I also believed that one of my uncles-by-marriage on my dad's side was Lee Harvey Oswald. My mother went through a major Kennedy obsession as a child, and her library still features hundreds of books on the Kennedy family. When I was in timeout, I was usually sent to my parents' den. The most interesting thing to read was the books about the Kennedys. I noticed a striking resemblance between the late Lee Harvey Oswald and my uncle. At first I thought maybe the two were brothers, but my uncle's name was Lee. Why would a family name two sons Lee? (This was before I knew about George Foreman and his habit of naming his sons after him.) In my little mind, I realized that Uncle Lee WAS Lee Harvey Oswald -- that the televised shooting of him by Jack Ruby was either a fake or he had miraculously survived it, and rather than filling the public in on what really happened to him, and possibly having a trial for the shooting of President Kennedy, they essentially put him in the "Criminal's Protection Program" or something like that. I always thought it rather strange that they didn't bother to change his first name.

For obvious reasons, I avoided this uncle in the way I would avoid snakes or outhouses. (Note: I have never in my life been inside an outhouse and don't intend to change that status anytime soon.) I made my stupid belief known to the family and endured years of humiliation when, at a family gathering during which I was about five years of age, for some reason the adults were discussing Russia. They were arguing about Russian currency. I don't remember the specifics. I finally had enough of what I saw as a rather silly argument when we had an expert sitting right in our midst. I pointed my finger at the man and blurted out, "Why don't we just ask him? He lived  in Russia."

"I did?" my Uncle Lee replied in a quizzical manner.

"Yes, you did," I declared. "It was before you shot President Kennedy. I know who you really are."

It seemed that the resemblance hadn't been lost on the rest of the family, because the entire group burst into loud laughter at my proclamation. I immediately ran from the room in humiliation, but not before hearing my Uncle Lee accuse my dad of telling me that he, Uncle Lee, was Lee Harvey Oswald. My dad replied something to the effect that he's never once discussed President Kennedy, Oswald, or Uncle Lee's resemblance to the alleged assassin with me.

As you can see, my brother's stupid misconceptions far outnumbered mine, though we both were guilty of major imbecility. I suspect that other kids I knew believed dumb things as well, but I never learned of the specifics.


  1. LOL… very funny! I can't say I had any of those misconceptions that I can remember. Most of mine involve mishearing song lyrics.

  2. When we were 4 or 5, my cousin believed that he had turned 10 years old because he had eaten 10 chicken nuggets. I tried to explain that he was still six months younger than me, and that the chicken nuggets had nothing to do with his age, though he was insistent. I think the most annoying part was that his parents would not correct his thinking.

  3. Knotty, my brother sand song lyrics wrong as well.

    Becca, that must have been so frustrating when your cousin's parents wouldn't correct him.

  4. I totally believed your brother's toilet misconception.

    1. My mom always said the toilet thing was a common misconception among young children. I didn't believe her because she always tried to rationalize my brother's oddities. It turns out that in this particular case she was telling the truth. Who would've ever thought?